You’re about to enter what is undoubtedly the busiest and perhaps most profitable period of the year for your online store. And the thing is, most small and medium businesses often generate 20 to 40 percent of their annual sales during this season. So, to get in the action of the season, it’s essential to anticipate and prepare your online store for the massive surge in demand and traffic.
Here are five ways you can prepare to take advantage of the coming holiday shopping season:
1. Begin early to plan
Planning for the next holidays way ahead of time ensures you are able to cover every detail without missing out anything and sure makes you feel organized and in control.
Of course, there are many things that go into planning, however, you’d start by deciding which holidays you’ll be participating in. Truth is, there are several holidays in a year. Trying to participate in each one is akin to shooting blindly in the dark. Except perhaps, you can handle the madness; it would be strategic and more impactful to choose your battles wisely.
Once you’ve blocked off the holidays, next is mapping out your promotional calendar. This entails setting in place all the pieces you need to execute your campaigns. Things to mark off on your promotional calendar include dates to update your campaign graphics and banners; dates for email campaign deployment; and the start and stop date for ads.
2. Prepare your website
Nothing is more frustrating than having your site unavailable for whatever reason on the day of sales. First, start by checking in with your website host to be sure your allocated bandwidth can handle the anticipated surge in web visits. Secondly, analyze your past sales data. Going over the statistics will help you understand what you did right and wrong the last time; thereby, equipping you to create better campaigns for this year.
Some questions to ask to enable you to uncover useful insights while reviewing last year’s data include:
- What were your most successful campaigns?
- Which products were the most popular?
- Which channels were the most profitable?
- Which are your most profitable keywords?
3. Make sure your store is optimized for mobile
If your online store is not mobile friendly, just know you’ve been leaving a significant amount of money on the table. And it could even get worse with the projected increase in mobile purchases by consumers. Holiday shoppers are increasingly shopping from their mobile devices; ensuring your eCommerce site is mobile optimized means you’re able to tap into this new stream of traffic while also boosting your search engine ranking.
4. Take stock of your inventory
You would want to be sure; there is enough stock to fulfill at least most of the orders that would come through during the peak shopping hours. The best place to start is to track down your popular products, how many were sold the last time and current trend to understand what needs to be restocked and in what quantity. For new stores with no historical data to reference, simply focus on your current product line. Also, check out social media to make an educated guess about products that would be hot and probably get them stocked.
5. Plan how to handle shipping and returns
Time to review your return and shipping policies. Remember, your competitions are willing to offer more flexible return terms and enticing guarantees in an attempt to lure your customers to shop with them.
So, to stay competitive, you will have to give serious thoughts to your order fulfillment and return processes. Starting with your suppliers to delivery agents, have they been reliable over the months? Were your orders fulfilled on time the previous holiday season?
If you’re satisfied with them so far, time to touch base with them and streamline your holiday shopping season. However, if you are not, it’s time to shop for new suppliers.